Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Crazy Schools

Tonight I'm talking with Cornelia Read, mystery author of "The Crazy School." Madeline Dare (also featured in Read's "A Field of Darkness") is working at a boarding school in the Berkshires for disturbed youth. The death of two students is labeled a double suicide but Madeline thinks there is more to it. It's a fascinating read by Read (I had to say it) - but even more fascinating is that The Crazy School is based on a real boarding school in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where a friend of mine, Leslie Rossman, attended school. Leslie told me, "The things I saw no one should see." I talk with Leslie at the end of the show.

Cornelia talked about what is was like for her as a teacher at DeSisto.

"Endless faculty meetings that would devolve into screaming group therapy sessions which was really terrifying - you never knew when the entire room was going to turn on you for some imagined or true character flaw - the exhaustion
of that just wore people down, broke them down and they started to go along with the system and it was really astonishing to see people who fought against it at the beginning just knuckle under and become convinced that in fact it was a positive experience."

I hope you get to listen to our conversation either tonight, on Sunday morning at 9am, or on KAXE's archives.

I had a really interesting conversation with Cornelia about writing. We talked about writing in terms of how the imagination works - how fascinating the creative process can be...

"When I was writing the first draft of "Field of Darkness" I was about halfway through with it and I was calling my main character, Madeline Dare, Caroline Dare - which is an anagram of my name. I suddenly thought THAT'S NOT HER NAME! Her friend was going to show up and I knew that she would call her Madwoman Dare and it was when the name changed that she really began to work as a character. Sometimes you'll have a character do something on the page that you absolutely didn't see coming and I remember the first time that happened to me: I called my sister and said, "Oh my god - I feel like I'm channeling someone - I just hope it's somebody with talent."


Cornelia Read said...

Heidi, it was such a pleasure talking with you about the book, thank you! And I was very moved by what Leslie had to say during her part of the interview. Hearing her describe her memories of the school really did make me both laugh and cry.

Heidi Holtan said...

Thanks Cornelia! I appreciate your honesty and passion to the subject of not just writing/mysteries - but about the DeSisto school and what happened there.